Nordiques parried by Parts in finals, take 2nd place in Tier 6 championship
March 28, Stamford, CT: ‘Passing the torch’ was the predominant theme on Wednesday night as the Nordiques fell a step short of a Championship, falling to Parts Unknown 5-1. Parts executed a patient game plan that stopped the Nords at the blue line, and earned them their second Tier 6 Championship in two years. Despite the loss, les Nordiques stood up tall to the challenge, and celebrated the end of a very memorable season. The evening was capped off with Jim Cook awarding the ‘Torche’ to the team’s MVP for Winter 2007, Kevin Forner. The team also enjoyed a long celebration along with Nordiques alumni in the Ice View lounge.
The Nordiques entered the rink energized by their Game 2 upset of the undefeated Parts. After a delay to the start of the game caused by dislodged glass, both teams skated a very tight and hard fought first and second periods, with Parts gaining a 2-0 advantage by the end of the second period. The Nords got just about everything right, but Parts capitalized on a few minor miscues to take the lead. The Nords posted a stretch offensive in the third period, but were repeatedly turned away at the blue line by the Parts defense. With Parts up 3-0 with about 9:00 to go, Jim Cook jetted into the Parts zone on a short-handed breakaway, and was stopped by Matt Towers (in net for Parts). Thinking quickly, Jim jabbed the rebound, which was picked up by Lars Miloscio and put behind Towers for the only Nordiques goal. When asked about the play, Anglophile/Francophile Miloscio joked “J'entraînais le Petit Gâteau complètement par la séquence détachée. Vous auriez dû m'entendre. Petit a fait je sais que j'aurais en fait à mettre le choisi dans le filet pour lui aussi.” (“I was coaching Cookie all the way through the breakaway sequence. You should have heard me. Little did I know that I would have to actually put the puck in the net for him as well.”)
With the Nords doggedly trying to tie the game with regained momentum, the Parts swarmed the net and tipped in 2 additional goals at the end of the period. Substitute goaltender Bill Tenca (in for the sidelined Nawrocki) played another solid game in net, thwarting several breakaway attempts in the closing minutes as the Parts pressured. While the mood on the ice was somber as the buzzer sounded, there was consensus that this was a dramatically different Nords team than the one that took the ice in October.
After the game, the Nords carried out their tradition of awarding the “Torche” trophy to the team’s most valuable player. The trophy, which is an actual Nordiques MVP trophy awarded to Real Cloutier in 1975, is awarded to the player who best embodies the spirit, passion, and personality of the team. Spring 2006 winner Jim Cook awarded the Winter 2007 Torche to Kevin Forner. Cook commented “Kevin is a really good player. He likes hockey. And he really improved and emerged as a team leader during the season. And he is really funny. Ha ha ha ha.” Forner graciously accepted the award, complimented his teammates on a well played playoffs, and added his pleasure at seeing the team come together so well for the stretch run. Forner, who is out until the fall season due to an abdominal injury, had to watch his comrades from the bar. But that did not deter his spirit or support of the team, as he was there for every single minute of the playoffs.
Forward Charles Pevsner, commenting on the 3-game final series with Parts Unknown, stated, “We have nothing to be ashamed of, and everything to be proud of. The Parts had only twelve goals scored against them in the entire regular season, but we scored five against them in three games; and we skated with them all the way.”
STR league management has recognized that Parts Unknown really belong in Tier 5, and have moved them there for the next season.
When asked to comment on the Fall 2007 season, Nordiques General Manager and goalie extraordinaire John Nawrocki said, “Je suis stupéfié à la façon dont nous tous sommes venus ensemble tellement rapidement cette saison. Nous avions reconstruit l'équipe, ajoutant des joueurs de caractère pendant plusieurs saisons. Avec un plus profond mettez hors jeu, j'ai vu le groupe commencer à émerger avec une confiance et une passion qui ont alimenté sur se pendant que la saison progressait. Au sujet d'un tiers de la manière dans la saison, vous avez commencé à voir l'intestin de Nords hors des exécutions, et à venir à partir de derrière dans plusieurs situations approximatives pour gagner des jeux. Absolument tout le monde sur la glace a intensifié leur jeu. Et tout le monde a eu plaisir à être dehors là sur la glace ensemble. C'est ce qui est le plus signicatif et récompensant. Indépendamment des résultats sur la glace, je pense que le Nordiques approchera avec confiance des jeux en équipe qui a plaisir vraiment à fonctionner en tant que groupe, et partageant dans la passion d'un grand jeu, et dans le legs d'une concession spéciale. Le futur est lumineux pour le Nordiques.” (“I am amazed at how we all came together so quickly this season. We have been rebuilding the team, adding players of character for several seasons. With a deeper bench, I saw the group begin to emerge with a confidence and passion that fed on itself as the season progressed. About a third of the way into the season, you started to see the Nords gut out performances, and come from behind in several rough situations to win games. Absolutely everybody on the ice stepped up their game. And everybody enjoyed being out there on the ice together. That is what is most meaningful and rewarding. Regardless of the outcome on the ice, I think the Nordiques will confidently approach games as a team that really enjoys working as a group, and sharing in the passion of a great game, and in the legacy of a special franchise. The future is bright for the Nordiques.”)
In the end, the Winter 2007 Nordiques took the famed red and blue logo on their chests, polished it up, and made it a brighter symbol of the ongoing legacy of the team from Quebec.
Nordiques stun Parts Unknown 3-2 in second game of finals!
March 27, Stamford CT: With a deftly targeted backhand, Matt Buecker capped off a monumental team effort to propel the Nordiques past Parts Unknown 3-2. The goal happened 2 minutes into the second overtime of Game 2 of the Tier 6 Championship, and forced a decisive Game 3 on Wednesday night. This was the first time Parts Unknown had been beaten in 19 games, and was the first blemish on their Winter 2007 record. Lars Miloscio score the other two tallies for Les Nordiques.
In a fateful email to his teammates on Monday afternoon, Rob Diabarca encouraged the Nordiques to “Support your teammates and pick up the slack, that's what a team is all about”. Every member of the team stood tall and together, and played a physically demanding match that kept Parts off balance for the entire game.
Getting pressure early, Lars Miloscio scored four minutes into the opening period. Parts responded to tie, but Lars led the charge back at the beginning of the second period to put the Nords back up 2-1. What ensued was a gritty, highly physical, highly emotional second and third periods, with the Nords and Parts leaving everything out on the ice. With four minutes to go, Parts broke through with a tying goal to send the game into what would be a fantastic finish. Parts continued to pressure, but goaltender Bill Tenca repeatedly denied all further attempts on the Nordiques goal, playing an absolutely solid game in net.
The game entered into a four on four 5:00 overtime session, with quick shifts and hard skating characterizing the opening two minutes. Then, the Nordiques quickly found themselves down two men, in a bizarre 4 on 2 skating session for an apparent two minute. Fifteen seconds into the 4 on 2, Lars Miloscio was tripped, bringing the odds a little more back into the Nords favor at 4 on 3. The men in fleur-de-lis killed off the penalty, and forced another overtime period, this time 3 on 3 for four minutes.
At the break, injured goalie and ad-hoc coach John "Rock" Nawrocki, sidelined with a concussion sustained in Game 1 of the finals, decided to aggressively go for the win, going with 2 offense and 1 D for the four minute period. The Nords clearly had the jets in this second overtime. The quick skating of Jim Cook, Lars Miloscio, and then Doug Eng resulted in a feed to a breaking Ronny Kim, who skated to the net and barely missed scoring on Parts. But the second break would come thirty seconds later, when Matt Buecker forced a puck behind the Parts defense, and then turned up the jets to quickly create a 10 foot skating cushion on the closest Parts. Buecker deked Parts goalie Matt Towers, skated around his pads, and deposited a backhand into the net.
The ensuing celebration could be heard in three states, as the Nordiques swarmed Matt Buecker to celebrate his monumental goal. With that backhand, the Nords spoiled the ‘perfect season’ for Parts, and forced a fateful Game 3 on Wednsday night March 28 at 10:30 pm.
When asked about the Game 2 win, Nordiques GM stated “Ceci gagne est le testament au caractère de cette équipe. Contre la cote escarpée, chaque joueur a creusé profondément pour gagner un physiquement et jeu avec émotion chargé. Je ne peux pas décrire comment incroyablement fier je suis de chaque et chaque joueur, et d'être un Nordiques. Nous regardons en avant à, et sont honoré pouvoir participer dans l'ultime dans l'hockey, un jeu décisif dans un Feuilleton de Championnat.”
(For Lars Miloscio and other Anglophiles: “This win is testament to the character of this team. Against steep odds, each player dug deep to win a physically and emotionally charged game. I can't describe how incredibly proud I am of each and every player, and of being a Nordiques. We look forward to, and are honored to be able to participate in the ultimate in hockey, a deciding game in a Championship Series.”)
Nordiques skate with Parts Unknown, but fall in 1st game of finals
March 25, Stamford, CT: The Nordiques fought a good game against Parts Unknown in the first game of the Tier 6 finals at Twin Rinks, but Parts Unknown ultimately prevailed 5-1.
The final score does not reflect how close the game was actually was. The Nordiques notched the scoreboard first in the first minute of the game, but the Parts quickly matched that. After going ahead 2-1, the Parts picked up another goal on a bad bounce. The score remained at 3-1 for the remainder of the first and second periods. The Parts had a chance for a power-play goal, and took it, late in the 3rd period when a Nord was called for checking -- a highly questionable call, given that the refs had earlier overlooked a Parts Unknown charge on goalie John "Rock" Nawrocki. Nawrocki was knocked flat, but rose to complete the game with great distinction.
Parts Unknown, which are undefeated this season, were clearly favored to win the game. Nevertheless, some Parts players were evidently taken aback how strongly the Nords took the game to them, and responded with more physical play than is customary in Tier 6.
Goalie Nawrocki commented thusly on his team's play: "Honi soit qui mal y pense."
Nordiques in finals!
March 22, Stamford, CT: Despite being short their full complement of players, the Nordiques pulled together and dominated Mangia Mangia 2-0 to advance into the Tier 6 finals.
After a scoreless first period, the Nordiques leapt ahead by 2 goals in the second period. In the 3rd period the Nords had to tenaciously kill off a series of four penalties in a row (two of them completely unjust, in the opinion of impartial observers). Mangia pulled their goalie with 1:38 remaining, but the heart went out of them when, due to a bench slipup, they were called for a penalty for too many men on the ice. (There were in fact 7 skaters instead of 6.)
Mangia were, as always, gentlemen; during the traditional post-game handshakes, many of their players wished the Nords good luck in the finals and told the Nords to "go get 'em!"
Teammate Kevin Forner, sidelined with an injury, attended the game to give moral support and cheer on his teammates. Goalie John "Rock" Nawrocki (who played a superb game, denying Mangia on several breakaways), stated, "Il ne faut pas laisser croître l'herbe sur le chemin de l'amitié".
The Nords now face the undefeated Parts Unknown at 8pm Sunday night for the first game of a best 2 out of 3 final contest.
Nordiques enter 2nd round of playoffs
March 19, Stamford, CT: For the first time in 3 years, the Nordiques advanced past the 1st round of playoffs, after defeating the Trashers 6-2 on Sunday night.
The Nordiques face Mangia in round 2 at 9pm Thursday evening, March 22, in what promises to be a fun and hard-fought game.When asked about his team's chances to make the finals, goalie John "Rock" Nawrocki commented in typical laconic fashion, "Chacun est artisan de sa fortune".
"nos bras meutris vous tendent le flambeau, a vous toujours de la porter bien haut..."